BASIC COLOUR THEORY: The Natural Order of Colour

Essential Equipment for today’s lesson – Gouache, Brushes and Paper.


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Helen gave a most instructive/informative lecture today. I had always believed I’d a rather good knowledge of Colour Theory, but as the session went on, it became apparent that I knew very little, or had forgotten most things previously learned.

Helen thought it was a good idea for us all, to research the 3 main essential characteristics of colour, TONE, HUE & CHROMA

TONE – Artistic context referring to light and dark

HUE – Refers to a pure pigment/quality which distinguishes one colour from another e.g red from orange

CHROMA – Quality of saturation, the measure of the colour content.

I was set the task to create a: COLOUR WHEEL (3 x Primary, 3 x Secondary, 6 x Tertiary), GREY SCALE (6 progressing squares from white to black), COLOURED GREY SCALE (Neutral grey created by mixing 3 primary colours & create 6 progressive squares from white to black), TINTS & SHADES (Choose any colour from circle wheel and create 6 progressive squares to white. Repeat with black and middle grey), COMPLIMENTARY COLOURS (Choose 2 opposite colours and create 6 progressive squares linking the colours), MIXTURE BANDS (Complimentary colours, create a mixture band, for e.g change red to green using 6 progressive by addition of progressive amounts of green to the red and red to the green), HARMONIES (Placing colours next to their neighbours on the colour wheel. Tinted harmonies include addition of white. Shaded harmonies occur when black is added instead of white), CONTRAST (Placed side by side to intensify each other), DISCORD (When natural order of colour is reversed, e.g white added to violet and placed next to red will become discordant with the red, likewise a darkish yellow-brown will be discordant with blue) & COLD AND WARM (Paint out coldest/warmets colour and make progressively colder/warmer with addition of blue/red).


Unfortunately I completely forgot to incorporate the  other 3 Tertiary colours, to complete the Colour Wheel. This was a valuable lesson learned, I will revisit this within the next couple of weeks. Would using different shades/hues of the same colour alter the results? I was told to use a deep rose pink rather than red for this exercise, Helen aforementioned the muddy results made by using a pure red.

The session, although not as successful as wanted, allowed me to learn from my mistakes.

(Left) Greyscale using Black & White. I have always loved the range of tones between B&W, but have found at times this scheme can be a little flat. (Right) A Blue Greyscale can offer a more interesting and soulful tonic to an otherwise flat scheme.

(Middle) Was my first attempt at a Red Greyscale, but as you can visibly see I put far too much red in the mix. (Left) My second attempt at a Red Greyscale was far more successful, really being far more meticulous when adding the primary colours together. (Right) First attempt at Yellow Greyscale was a disaster!! It reminds me of sample colours of foundation for women. The muddiness of the colour is unattractive and not what I had hoped for. Again, I will try to hone my paint mixing skills in a more refined and deliberate way.


Far more successful was my tint and shade endeavour. From left to right: PRIMARY COLOUR, ADDING WHITE, ADDING BLACK, ADDING COLOUR GREY. I thoroughly enjoyed this exercise, and will be treating myself to more of these gouache colours. Siam, my friend decided to use most of them!! Haha.


As I had not utilised the Library as yet, I decided to book a 1-2-1 appointment with Martha. I gained a basic understanding into the workings of the Library, but did not feel confident to take the first step to becoming independent; apparently there was nothing to worry about, Martha could not have been more helpful. I am now the proud ‘owner’ of 2 books, which I will be sourcing and referencing within my practice.

After 45 minutes spent with Martha, I am now self-assured to source research material for/by myself. We concentrated on narrowing searches for specific subject/source material and even put in place an alert system that will allow me access to the latest release of chosen individuals/companies/artists/subscriptions/trend forecasts etc.

My next 1-2-1 appointment will be booked around the Arts & Humanities Databases. THANK YOU, MARTHA.

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